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Rear View Camera Install in a 17A
Rear view camera installation
Text first; photos follow:
As a result of a friend's incident with another driver, and their ability to prove fault, we considered, and then purchased dash cameras for all of our extended family's cars.
At the same time, we got a two-camera setup for our tow vehicle: one dash and one-rear view. The particular one we got had a rearview mirror/screen that clips on to the existing rear view mirror, to provide you with an electronic rear view mirror. It had about 30 feet of small 4-wire cable to run to the rear of the vehicle.
I did a work bench test, and found that the setup did not work correctly. The front camera and screen worked, but the rear camera did not. The screen was clear, but the installation instructions were, in a word, worthless junk, and the wiring instructions were, at best, incorrect, and confusing. So, we contacted the seller, who after some “try this/try that” dialogues, refunded all but $10 of our money, and then said, “don't send it back”, just keep it or dispose of it.

So, my mod-inclined mind started to work. I found that the rear camera basically requires 3 wires: 5V DC power, ground, and signal, and three of the four wires from the main unit give just that. So, I fished the wire cable through my tow vehicle (Honda Pilot) to the rear, installed a 3.5 mm stereo jack socket in the rear plastic headliner piece, then made a mount for the camera, and wired a short 3-conductor cable from the camera to a stereo plug, to make it a plug-in installation.
Wiring is:
Tip=Red-power=+ 5V from the main unit on the dash,
The camera is mounted inside the rear tinted window of my tow, and gives me a 170° view, including blind spots at the tow vehicle corners, which is great. It is on whenever the ignition is on. The main unit (screen & front camera) also did not fit on our existing rear-view mirror, so I made a dash top mount for it.

Since the camera worked well, even through tinted glazing, I decided to see if it would work in the trailer. Warning: I'm cheap; I use what I have available, instead of buying new, so don't laugh at my solutions.
I took the leftover cable, found it was too short to reach the rear of the trailer, so I soldered an extention made of some XLR microphone cable, ending up with a cable of sufficient length. Then I soldered on a 3.5mm stereo jack at one end and a matching plug on the other, plugged one end into the back of the tow vehicle headliner socket, and strung out the cable outside on the ground to about 5 feet behind the trailer. Worked great. Then I went inside the trailer, propped the camera in the rear window (which, by the way, is slightly tinted). Worked great, very clear.

The next step was how to run it all concealed (had to meet the wife factor), and how to mount it (again, had to meet the wife factor). Rumaging through my resources (the don't throw it away drawer and box in the garage), I found a swing-arm lamp. Voila: the frame to mount the camera. Now: how to bolt it in the trailer? The window frame in the first-gen. Escape rear window has 1/4” slots in the metal extrusion for, I guess, a bug screen. I had some hardboard pieces that were the right thickness, and I needed to make up the height difference, because the swing-arm lamp frame was shorter than the window height. Additionally, I needed some lateral stability. So, I ended up with a small piece of hardboard, at the top, for the frame members and the camera to fasten to, and a larger, wider hardboard piece at the bottom, for support.
The camera mount is just a couple of long machine screws (8-32, I think), wing nuts, with some brass tubing to space the camera out away from the glass.
Wiring: To mount a 3.5mm stereo socket at the base of the cabinet is difficult due to Escape's construction method, which is two thin veneer layers separated by some 1x wood framing. They run wiring through that area at the factory, then glue the assembly together.
I chose to drop wiring down through the overhead cabinet bottom, at the corner of the window, behind the window shade cord, to a stereo jack. Wiring then runs up into the corner of the trailer, accessed by moving/removing the corner partition piece that is held by staples (and sometimes a bit of glue). The partition, then, just slips back in place and is held by friction fit. Once in the side overhead cabinet, I ran the wiring forward along with other Escape wiring to the front corner of the trailer, using some nylon cable clamps occasionally to maintain neatness. Passing through the wardrobe, I tucked the wiring behind a plastic trim piece.
At the front corner of the trailer, I moved/removed the corner partition piece, then ran the wire down, just tucked behind the corner padded vinyl trim, to the area under the front bed and to the floor. When passing through the overhead cabinet bases, and then through the plywood bed base, I used some irrigation tubing as a sleeve to guide the cable, and to protect it.
To get outside, I found that the trailer umbilical cable goes through a hole in the trailer fiberglass bottom that is larger in diameter than the umbilical, and is liberally filled with butyl caulk, so I poked a screwdriver through, then ran the camera cable through the hole. Existing caulk sealed it up nicely. Cable then ran forward along the trailer frame, and up through the propane tank cover area. From there, the cable just hangs in mid-air, during towing, running in the base of the rear window into the tow, to the existing socket. This is where that mic cable shines, because it is much heavier than the cable that came with the camera, and is much more flexible. It is made to flex, and to endure exterior use.
After all that, the installation passed muster with the wife, and works perfectly. The only hole I drilled was for the cable run at the corner of the overhead cabinet base at the rear of the trailer. When we're camping one wing nut is taken off, and then the mount can be removed and stored. The only thing visible is the cable and stereo plug hanging down behind the cords for the blinds.
I now rely on that extra rear-view screen, giving me extra corner visibility when just operating the tow vehicle, and giving me an extraordinary amount of information about what's around the rear of the trailer, when under tow.
stereo jack at tow
wiring to tow on propane cover
cable run at frame
at umbilical at trailer bottom
run at trailer corner
cable run forward through cabinets
cabinet panel access
cabinet panel
camera mount
camera and frame
frame for trailer window
stereo plug at trailer rear
installation at trailer rear window
screen at tow

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